A theoretical investigation of the factors controlling the stress rupture life of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) continues. Kevlar (DuPont) fiber overwrapped tanks are of particular concern due to their long usage and the poorly understood stress rupture process in Kevlar filaments. Existing long term data show that the rupture process is a function of stress, temperature and time. However due to the presence of a load sharing liner, the manufacturing induced residual stresses and the complex mechanical response, the state of actual fiber stress in flight hardware and test articles is not clearly known. This paper is a companion to a previously reported experimental investigation and develops a theoretical framework necessary to design full-scale pathfinder experiments and accurately interpret the experimentally observed deformation and failure mechanisms leading up to static burst in COPVs. The fundamental mechanical response of COPVs is described using linear elasticity and thin shell theory and discussed in comparison to existing experimental observations. These comparisons reveal discrepancies between physical data and the current analytical results and suggest that the vessel s residual stress state and the spatial stress distribution as a function of pressure may be completely different from predictions based upon existing linear elastic analyses. The 3D elasticity of transversely isotropic spherical shells demonstrates that an overly compliant transverse stiffness relative to membrane stiffness can account for some of this by shifting a thin shell problem well into the realm of thick shell response. The use of calibration procedures are demonstrated as calibrated thin shell model results and finite element results are shown to be in good agreement with the experimental results. The successes reported here have lead to continuing work with full scale testing of larger NASA COPV hardware.